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Ginny and Georgia

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What it’s about:

Fifteen-year-old Ginny Miller, her mom, Georgia, and her brother, Austin, move to the idyllic town of Wellsbury, Massachusetts after her stepfather’s death. The questions is, are they there to start a new life…or are they on the run?

Names you might know:

Jennifer Robertson (Schitt’s Creek), Brianne Howey (Batwoman, Heart of Dixie), Antonia Gentry, Felix Mallard (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), Sara Waisglass (Degrassi: The Next Generation), Scott Porter (Carcerem, Heart of Dixie). Created and executive produced by Sarah Lampert.

Why it’s worth your time:

For her entire life, Ginny (Antonia Gentry) has been burdened with having a young, extroverted, hot, single mom (Brianne Howey). All eyes are always on Georgia. When we meet them, Ginny is the same age her mother was when she had her, just 15. Georgia claims they’re just like the “Gilmore Girls, but with bigger boobs,” but their story is more like Anywhere But Here. The family moves around a lot, usually leaving a mess and a few more secrets behind them. This time isn’t any different. Ginny wonders why they moved out of Houston and all the way to the lily-white town of Wellsbury. It’s her fifth school, and she’s afraid that as the new mixed-race kid (her father is black), she’s once again going to be the outsider “that’s too black for the white kids and too white for the black kids.”

In the beginning, it looks like she’s not wrong. On her first day, another student says to her, “You look so exotic, what are you?” And her AP English teacher assumes that she’s not up to taking the class. He tells her that she can feel free to move into a regular English class if she feels overwhelmed. This is, like, the second thing he says to her, right after insisting on calling her Virginia. Her takedown of him in front of the class gets her classmate Maxine’s attention, and just like that, Ginny’s got a new friend, and a crew to hang with.

Played by Sara Weisglass, Maxine is lively, Tigger-level bouncy , and conveniently lives across the street, along with her bad-boy twin brother Marcus (Felix Mallard), and their mom, Ellen, played by Jennifer Roberston (Jocelyn from Schitt’s Creek! YAY!). By the time Ginny gets home from school that first day, moms Ellen and Georgia are already friends.

What’s original and captivating about the show is that there are a bunch of different tales going on here. It’s a coming-of-age story for both Ginny and Georgia, with some Oceans 8 here, a whiff of Euphoria there, and a little bit of a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. A layer of racial and social class commentary adds some depth to all of this. It’s an adult rom-com, and it’s also a teenage rom-com, and a modern high-school drama. Maxine (Max) is a lesbian, but unlike the rest of her girl gang, she’s never had sex. And her friends are definitely having sex, and drinking, and doing drugs, all of which are eye-wideningly new to Ginny, who’s never even kissed anyone before. That changes pretty quickly as she soon finds herself the object of affection of two cute boys—the aforementioned Marcus, and geeky musician Hunter.

Ginny is right to suspect her mom’s motives—she’s definitely running from something. A few things, actually. Her moral compass doesn’t exactly point North, and flashbacks show what and how she’s survived since Ginny was born. She is trying to start fresh—new town, a job working for the mayor (Scott Petter), and maybe a new life with him. But old habits die hard, especially when the money runs out. Eventually, her past catches up with her, in more ways than one.

Despite everything, Georgia is a good mom. She’s fiercely devoted and protective of her kids. Maybe a little too much. She treats Ginny as more of a peer than a daughter, but she’s not above pulling the mom card when necessary. Georgia is a little dangerous, and it’s a bad call to stand between her and what she wants.

Like I said, there is a lot going on here, but the show never feels rushed or stuffed. Creator Lampert has the good sense to stretch Ginny and Georgia’s story across 10 episodes, so every individual part gets enough space. It’s easy to understand where everyone is, and what’s going on. Gentry does a fantastic job in the role of Ginny—she has to display a lot of different emotions in a lot of different situations. She loves her mother, but she’s also worried about how much she’s like her, and how much she isn’t. Georgia is tough and quick-witted, but Howey is able to show flashes of the fear and vulnerability inside the character.

My mom and I moved around a lot when I was younger, so I really identified with Ginny. I was often the new girl in school, and usually the only black one in my AP class. I’ve had that conversation with a teacher a few times. I’ve felt the same defensiveness Ginny does, the same instinct to hide, and/or be friends with whoever would be friends with me. But I also think that alienation is just a part of being a teenager. There are times when you’re tempted to hate Georgia—I know I was—but she won me over, just like she does everyone else. This show will win you over too. If you listen closely, you can hear Ginny sigh and roll her eyes.

The takeaway:

Ginny and Georgia is deeper and more complex than it might seem at first glance. It’s the kind of show that draws you in and keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.

Watch it with:

This would be a great binge watch to share with your friends. I did recommend it to a friend of mine who has a teenage daughter about Ginny’s age and regretted it, for the daughter’s sake! All the sex happens off camera, but there are depictions of drug use, self-mutilation, and eating disorders that are front and center. If you decide to watch this with your teenager, be prepared to discuss it with them.

Worth noting:

All but one of the five directors and two of the eight writers are women. That has to be some kind of record, right?

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